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Students design solar-powered car to help Egypt’s disabled

A group of mechanical engineering students have come up with a concept to help those with disabilities navigate their way around the bustling streets of Cairo.

Tapping into a gap in the market, the team of students from Cairo’s Helwan University have developed a solar-powered motorized vehicle that enables disabled people to travel long distances without any assistance.

“We started to look at what’s available on the market and what the country is doing for them and we found that there are electric wheelchairs or manual wheelchairs. But these chairs don’t allow people to go long distances; you cannot use them to go from Masr El Gedida to Nasr City or from Nasr City to Maadi. They cannot cross long distances. So we decided to make them a three-wheeled car. They can go long distances with it. They would not need anybody to help them drive it or to stop it and if they need to stop it there is an emergency system that they can work manually. Its speed reaches 55 kilometres per hour, this is a very good speed in Egypt especially.” explained the project’s team leader, Ahmed Adel Labib.

Out on the road, one of the students demonstrates how the motorised vehicle works.

The car is operated by remote control and the students were keen to keep the running costs of the vehicle low, so they’ve installed solar panels on the roof to charge the battery-powered motor.

The students say the three-wheeled car will also empower the country’s disabled, giving them a sense of independence.

“These people are unable to move, they only have the option between a normal chair and a manual wheelchair and their speed is very slow. They are not able to interact with society, it’s a struggle that they face that might affect them because they cannot interact with society. You have to make something like this so they can go to their jobs or other places far away for errands,” explained student and team member, Ghofran Sayyed.

The three wheeled car is also equipped with an emergency system to help the driver in the event of a technical fault.

The students have received funding and support from a number of sponsors and foundations, raising 28,000 Egyptian pounds, more than $1500 USD, to finish building their prototype.

For now, the young engineers are focusing their efforts on perfecting their project before turning their attention to raising more capital so as to make their product fit for mass purpose.

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